The Shmooze

American Jewish Soccer Players Gunning For Sports Glory

By Josh Tapper

  • Print
  • Share Share
Jonathan Spector

As Jordan Farmer plays a steady back-up role for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals and Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler all rank in the top five in MLB All-Star voting at their respective positions – Braun, a Milwaukee Brewer, leads all National League outfielders – three other Jewish American athletes will be gunning for sports glory in the coming weeks.

As members of the U.S. national soccer team, Jonathan Bornstein and Benny Feilhaber, who both grew up in Southern California, and Chicago’s Jonathan Spector will be lacing up their cleats to play in the 2010 World Cup, set to kick off in South Africa on June 11. (The U.S. plays its first match against England on June 12.) All three shouldn’t have any trouble in the global limelight. Bornstein, a defender, and Feilhaber, a midfielder born in Brazil, who roomed together at UCLA, have played on the national team since 2007 and won silver at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel. In addition to youth national teams, Spector, a defender, has played for Premier League powerhouse West Ham United and was signed by Manchester United — he never ended up playing for them — when he was 17.

As hard-pressed as you might be to find a Jew in one of America’s four major professional sports, finding a Jewish American soccer player is even trickier. So for the 2010 national team to feature three marks an impressive achievement. While Bornstein and Feilhaber only have Jewish fathers, they were both raised Jewish, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. For Bornstein, his involvement with the U.S. Maccabiah team went a long way to strengthening his Jewish identity.

“It was an amazing experience,” he told the Journal. “I loved it, and not just because I go to play soccer in Israel. It made me realize how fulfilling and enriched Jewish culture really is.”

Since the Israeli national football team hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1970, when it failed to make it past the first round, the trio of Bornstein, Feilhaber and Spector gives the World Cup some concentrated Jewish flavor. Let’s hope they share the success of their co-athletes in the MLB and NBA.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Kevin Youkilis, Los Angeles Lakers, Ryan Braun, Jordana Farmer, Ian Kinsler, Jonathan Bornstein, Fifa, California, Soccer

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.